Cruel Portrait of Brooklyn Museum Director Displayed in Staten Island Borough Hall

arnold lehman portrait .jpg
SI Live video still
Scott LoBaido, a Staten Island painter, describes himself as a "Creative Patriot." According to his website, his most ambitious works have been the world's largest version of the American flag (he claims) and a project where he painted 50 flags on one rooftop each state. He's also a religious Catholic and was so offended by the Brooklyn Museum's exhibition of David Wojnarowicz's "A Fire in My Belly," a video that features a shot of ants crawling over a crucifix, that he decided to take matters into his own hands. LoBaido painted a portrait of Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman nude and sitting on the edge of a truly icky green toilet bowl and tried to hang it in the museum himself. He was removed by security.

But the portrait has found a new home -- in Staten Island Borough Hall.

The portrait was unveiled earlier this week and it hangs outside Borough President James P. Molinaro's office, according to SI Live.

SI Live quotes Molinaro saying that the painting is "very fitting for this office." Molinaro, like LoBaido, is Catholic and was offended by the mildly subversive Wojnarowicz video.

On the phone this morning, Molinaro told the Voice that "I think it's a beautiful piece of art. I've known Scott for a long time, he's a nationally known artist."

As for whether he agrees with the painting's, um, statement: "I agree with the painting that it's a beautiful piece of art. I don't have to go beyond that any more than they have to go beyond what they have done," he said. ("They" meaning the Brooklyn Museum.)

But with a little prodding, Molinaro did go beyond: "I was more than offended," he said. The Brooklyn Museum's decision to display the video was "an act of blasphemy to the Christian population. The artist has a perfect right to do that. But museums such as the Brooklyn Museum should not have accepted it," he said.

Neither LoBaido nor the Brooklyn Museum were immediately available for comment. To check out LoBaido's charming portrait, simply pay a visit to the borough president's waiting room, where SI Live reports it is displayed in a "prominent place."

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.


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